Officials say Wednesday’s gas leak could have been a catastrophe


OPELIKA, Ala.- Pepperell Parkway and businesses are back to normal after Wednesday’s gas leak was repaired Wednesday night.

The leak started when authorities say private contractors struck a gas line while drilling under the road for a traffic light project. The gas seeped underground into storm water runoff drains and then it started to seep out of the drains. Captain Shane Healey from the Opelika Police Department says when the leak started, the potential for an explosion existed, but it did not amount to that.

Since natural gas is lighter than air, it was able to dissipate. Byron Prather, chief of the Opelika Fire Department said “natural gas is very explosive, but you have to have it just right,” Chief Prather said. “Right there near the leak is probably too rich, you get too far away it’s too lean, but somewhere in the middle is what we call a flash point; it’s just right like the carburetor on a lawnmower or a motorcycle or a go-kart. When it gets just right then the gas will ignite and expands rapidly and burns, causing an explosion.”

When the leak occurred, businesses close to the leak were evacuated for safety.

Captain Healey added that a reason things went smoothly after the leak was all the training and teamwork of all the departments involved.

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